Boost energy levels with an Ayurvedic breakfast

Light, warm and nutritious, porridge forms the basis of an Ayurvedic breakfast. It provides sustainable energy without overloading your digestive system. Plus, this tasty meal is quick to prepare. Read on to find out more.

06.08.2020

Daniela Schori

Eating a warm bowl of porridge might seem strange. You may think that you don’t have enough time to cook in the morning. While the typical central European breakfast of bread, jams, cheese, sausage, yoghurt and muesli provides a lot of energy, it doesn’t provide enough nutrients to fill you up properly. From the Ayurvedic point of view, these foods have cooling properties and can weaken the digestive system, which can lead to lethargy, weight gain and a constant feeling of hunger. According to Ayurveda, a system of medicine with its roots in India, we also have to take enough time to eat – and not just in the morning. Rushing is one of the biggest mistakes we make with our diet, especially in this part of the world. And we either eat too irregularly or too often, and the food we eat is either too cold or not right for our type. That’s why it’s worth taking a closer look at India. 

The traditional teachings of Ayurveda promote food as a remedy. Many health problems start in the gut, and according to Ayurvedic doctors, these can be regulated and/or prevented with the appropriate diet. The digestive fire, or “Agni” (the Sanskrit word for fire) is a core concept of Ayurveda, and it serves as the guardian of our health. Ayurveda is centred around the three types, the “Doshas” Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which differ depending on character and body type – and therefore require different foods. You can find lots of sources on the internet to deepen your knowledge, on Wikipedia for example, and you can take the Dosha Test by doctor and Ayurvedic expert Janna Scharfenberg (in German).

Explanation Dosha (Wikipedia) take the Dosha Test by doctor and Ayurvedic expert Janna Scharfenberg (in German)

Basic principles of an Ayurvedic breakfast

  • No matter what Dosha type you are, nutritious, light, warm porridge forms the basis of an Ayurvedic breakfast. But if you feel better and mentally fitter without breakfast, you can stick to that. Tip: instead of eating a meal, why not enjoy a warm, nutritious glass of nut milk or “Golden Milk” (recipe at the end).
  • Drink a glass of boiled water (at drinking temperature) when you wake up. This activates the digestive system and balances out fluid loss. You can add lemon juice to taste. Tip: fill up a thermos flask the night before and enjoy the lukewarm drink while you are still in bed. It’s also recommended as a thirst quencher throughout the day – cold drinks can slow down the digestive system.
  • Warm food is easier to digest, as the gastro-intestinal tract requires less energy to digest it.
  • Only use natural, fresh, regional and seasonal produce. Gently prepare the food while still fresh.
  • Don’t eat too much. Chew slowly, so you can easily feel when you are full and don’t overload your stomach.
  • Try not to mix milk products with acidic fruits. It’s better to eat fruits on an empty stomach or steam them (make sure not to boil them so the nutrients remain preserved). 

Easy recipe for an Ayurvedic breakfast porridge

The principle for preparing a nutritious breakfast porridge is very easy and can be adapted to suit any taste and every Dosha:

  1. Brown your chosen cereal (e.g. oats, spelt, buckwheat) in coconut oil, ghee or other fat (recommended cereals for Kapha types: rye, spelt, buckwheat, millet/for Pitta types: spelt, wheat, oat, barley/for Vata types: wheat, quinoa, rice, oat)
  2. Pour double the amount of cow’s milk, nut milk, plant-based milk or water over the cereal and let it soak for a few minutes. 
  3. Finally, season the porridge with spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom), sulphur-free dried fruits, nuts, seeds, coconut sugar or maple syrup – experiment as much as you like! 

The whole process only takes a few minutes and will soon become part of your morning routine. You can find more tips on health-promoting morning routines in the blog article “Start your day the healthy way with Ayurveda”, and find many more at urbanrise.ch. Helsana supports this new platform for a holistic morning routine filled with movement, mindfulness and nutrition.

Blog article “Start your day the healthy way with Ayurveda” (in German) urbanrise.ch (in German)

Spiced porridge

Ingredients for one portion:

  • 200 ml unsweetened almond milk 
  • 40 g oats (or another cereal)
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 small pear
  • 2 dates
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 tsp hazelnuts
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch of turmeric powder
  1. Mix together the oats and almond milk and bring to the boil. Leave to soak for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Then mix in the spices and flax seeds. 
  3. Wash the fruit, deseed it, chop into bitesize pieces, and leave to soak in the porridge for five minutes. 
  4. Taste, add the nuts and enjoy lukewarm.

(Source: Helsana Coach app)

Why should you eat a warm breakfast?

Every organ has active phases and rest phases. During the morning, our digestive fire “Agni” is still asleep, the Dosha Kapha prevails with its cold, lethargic and immobile properties. A warm meal gently awakens the digestive system, as the food is already at “operating temperature”, so it requires less energy to digest. Heavy, cold food dampens the inner fire and puts too much strain on the digestive system, which affects our well-being throughout the whole day. Trendy banana bread, crunchy nut granola with warm milk or rice pudding with turmeric, cinnamon and other spices are good alternatives to porridge. 

“Golden Milk” for breakfast

“Golden Milk” is a nutritious alternative for those who don’t like to eat in the morning. It is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy, immunity booster and for cleansing. Here’s how to prepare it:

Heat 200 ml almond milk with 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1 pinch of pepper, 1 tbsp of turmeric, 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tsp of honey in a pan (don’t boil), pour into a cup and enjoy.

Evelyne Dürr, health management expert Evelyne Dürr, health management expert

Evelyne Dürr, health management expert

Evelyne Dürr (MSc in Human Movement Sciences, ETH; CAS workplace health promotion) joined Helsana in 2014. As a health management specialist, she helps customers engage with prevention and health promotion. Evelyne Dürr gave the editorial team advice and input for this article.

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